Strategy Development

What impact will we hold ourselves accountable for? How will we achieve it? How can we expand our impact? How will we organize to get it done and what will it cost? Together, the answers to these questions provide a framework for developing a pragmatic, specific plan of action: a strategy.

Over the last decade, we have worked with over 300 nonprofits to develop and refine high-impact strategies. In our Harvard Business Review article, “Delivering on the Promise of Nonprofits,” we underscore the importance of answering the aforementioned questions and provide examples from past work to highlight how nonprofit leaders have come to ambitious yet realistic answers.

Latest Publications

Network Transformation: Can Big Nonprofits Achieve Big Results?

In an era of tech-enabled, high-growth social enterprises, it’s easy to overlook the large, slower-growth nonprofits with broad networks that have been serving communities for decades. Yet it’s these national and global networks that have the reach and power to take on big social issues and create impact at scale. Y-USA, 4-H, Save the Children, and The Salvation Army are just a handful of networks that have taken steps toward not only serving those in need, but solving the underlying social problems their beneficiaries face.

Transformative Scale: The Future of Growing What Works

A number of social sector leaders, philanthropists, and policymakers are experimenting with ways to deliver impact at a truly “transformative scale.” This article highlights nine pathways being explored by these pioneers in their efforts to solve social problems in the United States and abroad.

Why Nonprofit Mergers Continue to Lag

Despite growing support for nonprofit mergers, promising combinations often stumble over three emotionally charged issues: getting the boards aligned, finding roles for senior staff, and blending the brands. Creating a due diligence process that overcomes these hurdles can increase the likelihood that a merger will succeed.

Putting Clients at the Center: A Planning Guide for Multi-Service Organizations

This planning guide is for multi-service organizations interested in providing integrated services to clients, whether youth or adults, so that these clients can achieve long-term positive outcomes. Based primarily on the experiences of Four Oaks, a large multi-service organization serving children and families in eastern Iowa, the guide lays out a three-step approach to putting clients at the center.

Living Into Your Strategic Plan

"Living Into Your Strategic Plan: A Guide to Implementation That Gets Results" highlights important steps in the strategy implementation process and provides guidance on how to get started.

Scaling Impact

How would your strategy change based on the answer to this question: “How can we get 100x the impact with only a 2x change in the size of the organization?” In this article, Managing Partner Jeffrey Bradach identifies strategies pioneers have used to grow impact beyond what their organizational size would seem capable of generating.

Roger Martin's Unconventional Wisdom

We share four pearls of unconventional wisdom excerpted from Rotman School of Management Professor Roger Martin’s recent conversation with Jeff Bradach, Bridgespan’s managing director. Martin, Rotman's former dean, joined Bridgespan's Knowledge Advisory Board as chair in November 2014.

Featured Content

Mergers That Made a Difference

This co-curated, four-week series of cases and blogs explore effective nonprofit mergers, looking at their rationales, catalysts, and results plus the challenges of due diligence and integration.

Zeroing in on Impact

Many nonprofits have Goliath-sized aspirations. In this piece, we look at the role of a well-articulated Intended Impact and coherent Theory of Change as a critical input into a strategy that will get results.

Going to Scale

How can proven nonprofit programs increase their reach? Drawing upon lessons learned by nonprofits such as Jumpstart, City Year, and STRIVE, this article explores how the nonprofit leaders can think about the decision to replicate and what steps they can take to help their replication initiatives succeed.

Getting Replication Right: The Decisions That Matter Most for Nonprofit Organizations Looking to Expand

Are you sure that replicating is right for your organization? And if so, are you ready? This paper examines the potential benefits and difficult challenges that confront organizations looking to grow through replication and features several youth-serving organizations as examples.

For additional resources on the organizational and funding aspects of strong strategy, please visit our organizational effectiveness and funding pages.